Selims Raasta went public on March 2014 to document our overland journey from Sheffield to Bangladesh. I didn’t write the first travel post till June(!), but we announced the vehicle we had bought for the epic journey along with the route we would take to get from England to Bangladesh overland.
One year later I started writing this post from Bangkok, where we travelled for a few weeks before making our way to New Zealand…and now (2 week later) I am finishing our first Blogiversary post in Auckland, our home for the next one year!
To find out why plans have changed so drastically, see here for my last post of 2014 – Life Happens When you are Making Travel Plans
In this post I highlight what I have learned about the world of travel blogging, mistakes I have made, wonderful people and places I have discovered and a little bit about the trials and triumphs of being a travel blogger.
I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, travel writing, maintaining a website and terms like – SEO, hastags, pinterest, instagram, google analytics – all these and more were new to me. Prior to blogging I had a facebook account which I was quite active on, and I followed other marine academics (but I rarely tweeted) on Twitter.
It is so much about Social Media…Yes you need to write well, but that’s only a part of it!
Facebook by far is my biggest friend when it comes to sharing posts and directing to our website. I would say 70% of our traffic comes from selims raasta. It helps that I had a large follower group on my personal account and when we opened up selims raasta, 80% of the same people followed selims raasta. Overtime we have had a steady growth of other followers and are now at 1350 followers.
Lessons learnt – Post when majority of followers are online, post links directly (rather than a picture with link on the comment) and click ‘highlight’ on posts. Read up on facebook algorithms. The faithful few who have liked every post and always provides comments…thanks guys, you know who you are 😉
I have had a steady growth on twitter – at 1320+ followers now and this pleases me as very few are friends or family, majority are people who have followed @raasta2014 out of interest, mutual benefit, hotels and travel agencies, but mostly other awesome travel bloggers. Traffic from twitter is far less though. I still don’t have the timing right when to tweet. Key on tweeting that has worked for me – All about key hashtags, following others, sharing interesting travel tweets, frequently tweeting (that was initially, now I do far less) and very soon I will be using hootsuite to schedule tweets.
I so struggle with this! Other travel bloggers have sworn this is the one that drives the most traffic to your site, because unlike facebook or twitter, it doesn’t get lost within a few minutes. It’s there to stay and has a longer lifespan of being seen by individuals. I am still working on getting the hang of this. Main findings on what works – vertical pins, amazing pictures that will make one want to click through, text on the picture that will make people click – e.g (10 reasons why xxx was our favourite) and scheduling at the right time. I use tailwind to schedule pins. My Pinterest selims raasta is growing – at 525 followers now, I have begun to see some traffic on website through here.
Write good posts and write frequently
It goes without saying the content of your blog posts have to be good. I still struggle between balancing personal reflective posts while at the same time providing useful practical information that people can use in planning their travels or choosing where to go. Some posts work better than others. So far, my personal posts have been most popular, but I would like to get bit more objective and provide more travel information as well.
Good photography and beautiful images go a long way in making people read your posts
People like pretty images 🙂 I myself love reading posts that have large images of beautiful places and am likely to follow or read more from that blog if I am happy with the pictures. I have a whole section on photography on our blog as I love participating in photography based blogs whilst incorporating our travels into photography posts.
Joining Part Time Travel Talk on facebook has been the best thing I have done for my blog. I have ‘virtually met’ so many wonderful and amazing travel bloggers through this forum. Many have been super helpful in answering questions when I travelled to new destinations, many have helped with technical issues with blogging but mostly we have promote each other’s blogs. During the process I have made friends and enjoyed inspiring travel writing.
Linking up with groups like #weekendwanderlust, #weeklypostcard, #sundaytraveler, #weekendtravelinspiration, #mosaicmonday, Daily Post Weekly Photography Challenge and few others have really helped to spread the word about our blog and I have in turn discovered some great travel blogs with wealth of information.
Mistakes I have made
First mistake – I publicized our blog in March and that month there was about 700 hits on the blog just in three days. I was mighty pleased until I saw the numbers drop within a few days! I shake my head when I look back at my naivety back then..there was no posts, no sections, nothing on the blog except our announcement of road trip and one short snippet of what car we will drive! In fact I wrote my first post mid June, nearly 3 months after the website went online. Word of advice, make your website bit more filled before you expect people to pour in everyday! The blog has grown steadily since and I had kept the posts going. Last month we have been travelling and I blogged less, hence there was a dip. Thankfully its starting to pick up again. Not sure what to judge it by – nearly 22,000 views, 1100 comments, 1600 likes (on website), few awards and 3000+ followers in one year, am happy enough and look forward to growing further!
Second mistake – Choose the name properly and be consistent with it on all social media. I opened a wordpress account and not being able to think of a name back then, I called it selimsfamily.com. Not very original or exciting. Selims raasta is actually the real name – raasta means road in Bangla. This is the road, the path and the journey we choose for our family. For the life of me I don’t know why our twitter and instagram is raasta2014. It makes it harder to pick up our website on google.
Highlights of travel blogging
On a personal level – having this wonderful memoir, diary of all the wonderful family travel moments, memories, stories and adventures of our family. All the support, positive feedback and words of encouragement has been wonderful as well.
On a wider level –Discovering other free-spirited, travel and adventure loving, living ‘out of the box’ individuals, couples and families who are enjoying this lifestyle – whether they are semi nomads, travelling actively any chance they get while maintaining full-time jobs (like us) or have been on the road for years. People who value experience more than having materialistic goods. I will not say who value travel more than money as you need that to travel! Just how we connect on what we want to do with the money we make 🙂
Being able to inspire other people to travel with children, highlighting off the beaten paths destinations, showing them how it can be done ethically, and how it can be done while holding down jobs. If nothing else, showing them that having kids doesn’t mean you have to stop travelling (if it’s something you enjoy.) Also being able to provide information on destinations to visit, places to stay and things to do.
Downside of travel blogging
It takes up so much time!! Not just the writing part but uploading and editing the right images, sharing on social media, gathering information on internet to support what I write on blog. It’s a lot of work. I also don’t like being on, or have my kids seeing me using social media so much. I try to minimize when travelling but it doesn’t always work. And let’s not forget the harm it’s doing to my PhD writing! If I worked on my thesis more than blogging, I would have a PhD by now….but travel blogging is so much more fun 🙂
Where do I see this blog going?
I am excited about joining #weeklypostcard and becoming self hosted soon! I am excited about sharing our adventures in New Zealand, Australia and possibly Fiji and Samoan islands over the next one year. I want to write about travelling in Bangladesh more, there are so many beautiful places here!
Once I am done with my PhD this summer (fingers crossed) I really want to start writing on personal causes that I believe in – highlighting ethical and/or nature tourism as well as unethical places to avoid, incorporating my science knowledge and conservation degree in my travel writing. It will require more time on research but I will be comfortable doing that then just promoting travel destinations.
I was going to end with the highs and los of travelling as a family with small children, being expats in different countries, how the kids (and us) cope with it all, but that will have to wait for another post as this one is ridiculously long!
For now, Big THANK YOU if you have made it to end of my long blogiversary rambling 🙂 It has been a wonderful journey for us, filled with it’s ups and down, happy to say mostly ups! Thank you for following us and being part of our journey on Selim family raasta 🙂